Barriers Come Down | 2. Fear

Summary: It became something that they couldn’t avoid — letting their guard down against their will.

Notes: A series of multi-genre ficlets centered on the growing bond of a mismatched crime-fighting duo. Initiated on 23 January 2014.


II: Fear
[Written on 13/2/2014; 938 words]

Sandor Mothwing knew no fear.

It was something that all of them had come to know, had grown to accept, and had come to acknowledge that it was simply an intrinsic part of his very essence without even realizing it. It became such a natural, everyday part of life for them — his very partners whom he had to work with on a regular basis — that they’d learnt to let it breeze past them as quickly as Sandor would often do himself, darting down the path in pursuit of a fleeing evildoer with a cocky grin etched deep into his features.

Bethel had stopped throwing tantrums and chiding him for his recklessness and utter ‘idiocy’ soon enough, and it didn’t take long for Marcia to follow suit, now only able to express her frustration in the most energy-conversing way she could — a deep, indicative sigh. Gil managed to hold out a little longer though, having a rather impressive degree of patience that far outweighed that of the girls. Jehiel, on the other hand, had scarcely bothered to even try, deeming it nothing but a waste of time in his typical condescending manner.

And sure enough, only Zion was left. Left to shoulder the ramifications of his friend’s recklessness all on his own.

It wasn’t like he had much of a choice either, being the only member of the group with known healing capabilities. More often than not, the beanie-clad boy would be the one saddled with casting recuperative spells over Sandor’s many cuts, bruises, wounds and injuries — most of which were completely unnecessary. More often than not, he’d make scathing comments about Sandor’s disregard for his own safety as he did, putting it as bluntly as he could that whatever he was doing was only making himself a nuisance for everyone. There were times when Zion even withdrew from speaking to the boy for as long as it took for his anger to subside, and Sandor would simply wait for him to cool down, keeping his distance while looking visibly downcast.

Because it was just that aggravating. How he didn’t listen. How being fearless was something he so foolishly prided himself on, and so he wouldn’t listen.

Sandor Mothwing knew no fear, and his sheer stubbornness had made it clear.

Zion knew it was rather horrible on his part to wish for any harm to befall his partner-and-friend, but if it was the only way – the only way – that he could knock some sense into the boy then so be it. He was silently hoping for the day that he’d wind up in an even worse state, with wounds and injuries and a pain far worse than what he’d experienced so far, and finally concede to the fact that they were right and he was wrong and that he had been acting stupid all the while and he’d never do it again.

And sure enough, it came, in a way he had never expected.

It had been the middle of the night when a sudden noise pierced into his consciousness, jolting him out of his slumber… on the couch. Zion blinked blearily, and it took him a moment to remember that they’d settled for spending the night watching a movie at Sandor’s insistence. He turned his head, searching warily for the source of the sound before it came reverberating through the hollow corners of his head again.

Whimpering.

Zion cocked an eyebrow, wondering if his ears were playing tricks on him. Nevertheless, he slowly got off the couch he’d been occupying, pacing closer and closer to the source.

It wasn’t long before he realized that what he heard had been completely real.

As real as the trembling form that lay lengthwise on the opposite couch, drenched in a daunting layer of perspiration.

Trembling, panting, tossing, turning.

“Sandor… ?” Zion ventured closer, eyeing him tentatively.

Desperation. Fright.

“Sandor,” he called again, now in a clearer tone as he approached him, reaching out to grab his convulsing shoulder.

Fear.

Absolute fear.

Sandor!” Zion yelled, giving him a single, forceful shake to snap him out of it. In an instant, his flatmate awoke with a start, letting out a gasp of pure shock before whipping around to face him.

Zion could’ve sworn he caught a glimpse of a tear.

“O-Okay,” he spoke slowly, trying to reorganize his thoughts. Thinking that it would be best to first calm Sandor down, he kept a firm grip on both of his tense, hunched up shoulders. “Relax. It was just a nightmare. Okay? Just… relax.”

It was difficult to even hear himself talk against Sandor’s heavy, erratic breathing. Zion could tell that he was struggling to string a proper sentence, only managing to give a few stiff, subtle nods in response to his prior coaxing.

“Geez, that guy could go on talking for days if you’d let him.”

Zion loosened his hold on his shoulders, slowly sitting down next to him on the edge of the couch. He tried speaking to him a lower tone, ignoring the whirlwind of confusion that had taken root in his mind. “Sandor?”

He almost felt his soul escape him when Sandor seized him roughly by his shirt, crumpling it up in a desperate hold.

“S-Sandor—“

“S-Sorry…” he stuttered between pants, burying his face deep into Zion’s chest. “I-I’m s-sorry… I—”

“……”

“—n’t wanna go back… Please—“

“……”

“… D-don’t l-leave—“

Zion remained silent as he felt the tears soaking through, before hesitantly putting his arms around his friend’s sobbing form.

Maybe he didn’t want him to experience something worse after all.

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